Merrett names Cleary as new chief

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THE TROUBLED Merrett underwriting agency in the Lloyd's of London insurance market yesterday moved to strengthen its board and heal internal divisions as the agency struggles for survival, writes John Moore.

Alan Cleary, 57, who has been with the group since 1991 and is an experienced loss adjuster, has been appointed chief executive following the departure of Dennis Purkiss to Zurich Re, the Swiss reinsurance group.

Stephen Merrett, the group chairman, said: 'Nobody is better equipped to see the Merrett group through these difficult times. Alan has a formidable track record of achievement in our industry.'

The crisis at the Merrett group has been caused by a loss of confidence in the agency following losses that hit the group's main insurance syndicate 418. Thousands of underwriting members have withdrawn their support.

Barnabas Hurst-Bannister, the underwriter who succeeded Stephen Merrett in May this year as the professional who looked after syndicate 418, is thought to be considering an offer from the Lloyd's interests of Cater Allen, the discount house.